Category Archives: Movie Review
In my effort to restart this blog I need to catch up on some movie reviews. Since Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was just released, how about I review the movie that came out before it! LOL!
As I have said before I am a huge Star Trek fan but I also love Star Wars too…just not as much as Trek. Yet, I always thought there was something in the aesthetic and pacing of Star Wars that Star Trek should borrow and learn from. When JJ Abrams, a lover of Star Wars, directed the 2009 reboot movie, Star Trek, my wish came true. In the feel and look of the movie there are elements of Star Wars in that Star Trek film and although some fans noticed that too and complained…I was not one of them. Therefore, when the next trilogy in Star Wars was going to be filmed, it seemed only natural that JJ Abrams would be selected to direct this movie.
I want to comment on one of the complaints The Force Awakened received from the minority of the people that did not like it. The complaint is that it is just a rehash or is derivative of the original 1977 film Star Wars, later retitled Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. I certainly do not deny this accusation. I actually embrace it and it is one of the reasons I do enjoy this movie greatly.
Some have complained that nostalgia is one of its selling points and I have no shame in agreeing with that. I was 14 in 1977 when the original movie came out and I loved it! It had a huge impact on me. So seeing Han, Chewie, Luke and Leia on the big screen was a huge part of this movie. That doesn’t mean the rest of the story wasn’t good, it was, even if it has elements of the first movie, it does!
Luke has disappeared and it has been thirty years since the Death Star was once again blown up and the Empire defeated. However, evil has not gone away. We have new characters that are very interesting to me. the rebelling storm trooper, Finn, the scavenger, Rey, and Kylo Ren, the son of Han Solo and General Leia, are all great additions to the Star Wars universe. The movie leaves us with a mystery of who is this woman Ren who wields the Force so easily? The special effects are excellent as JJ Abrams wisely knows how to weave practical effects with the CGI.
I will not reveal any spoilers of this movie. I will say this is/was a great way to start the new trilogy. It is visually stunning with everything you would want to see in a Star Wars movie. Although it does have elements of the original story, they are done with respect and reverence to the original.
I cannot believe I have not yet reviewed Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. The first pairing in live action of the two most iconic Superheroes in the world. There was a ton of expectation riding on this movie. The movie was heavily criticized by the professional pundits and under performed at the box office although it still made the studio money. One of the reasons for this is that the studio did not put out the three hour extended cut of the films into the theater. What was released to the theater was a truncated version of the film that was not very coherent in places. Note to film studio. Leave Zack Snyder alone and let him do his job, he knows what he is doing!
Therefore this review will be of the theatrical cut.
All movies do have their flaws…which is simply another way of saying “I would have done it differently” and although this movie is no exception the Pros greatly out weight any Cons it may have. I really enjoyed this movie so without further delay, the Pros and Cons of this film. Cons won the coin toss so they will go first. 🙂
The story, even in the Extended Cut, still has some issues. The scene in the desert where Lois is interviewing a terrorist and then all hell breaks loose, it really isn’t too clear what is happening. One example, Batman brands his criminals and they end up getting killed in jail/prison…but the movie never tells you why they are being killed in jail or the motives for killing them.
Alfred. I think over all Jeremy Irons did a good job but his cynicism got old after a while. Plus, if he thinks Batman was going down the wrong road and becoming something corrupt, then you would think that he would have confronted Bruce long before he did in this movie. It seems Alfred was just as jaded as Batman was in this movie.
Death of Superman. I do understand that his sacrifice was to show the world that he truly is a force for good in the world and that he will use his powers to help and not hurt. However, maybe my objection is more about the elaborate funeral they gave Superman, because it all seems too soon because it really doesn’t feel Superman truly earned the accolades and the grief. In the movie Superman has been around less than two years and there is much controversy surrounding him, he certainly isn’t universally loved.
Death of Clark Kent. This is unprecedented. Sure, they have shown Superman die in the comics and animated movies, but they always have found a way to excuse Clark’s disappearance until Superman returns. This movie paints quite a dilemma where they are acknowledging both Clark and Superman are dead! How can they bring both back without the world knowing Clark Kent is Superman!?
Good Story. Despite the story being muddled at times the story is very interesting and engaging. It really is not a story about Batman and Superman fighting, it is a story of redemption for both iconic characters.
Superman’s character arc. I like the idea in this universe where Superman isn’t a Mary Sue Boy-scout where everyone except the villains despise him and don’t trust him. In the real world we would have people truly fear and distrust Superman so I like that realistic approach and how Superman has to cope with that reality especially in the face of life taking disasters committed to tarnish his name.
Batman’s Character arc. I love how this is an older and cynical and jaded Batman who has gone through many tragedies himself. We see that Robin is dead, Wayne Manor has been burned to the ground and Batman is an outlaw. I loved the scene where we fist see Batman in the room where he just branded the criminal and he is lurking in the shadows. Classic Batman! I also like how Batman comes to once again have faith in humanity restored. The scene where he rescues Martha Kent in the warehouse is the best live action scene of Batman ever put to film.
Special effects. Excellent. I love any time Superman takes flight!! Doomsday is created with such life-likeness! Great eye candy!
Good pacing. Even though the Extended Cut is three hours long the movie flows well without any slow spots at all.
Lex Luthor. I think Jesse Eisenberg was great as Luthor…yes he is Lex Luthor and not the son of Lex as many claim, he was bitter, psychotic and unpredictable.
Wonder Woman. What can I say? She was awesome! Gal Gadot was simply amazing as Wonder Woman and Diana Prince and she stole the show! I also loved the cameo glimpses of Aquaman and The Flash and Cyborg!!
I want to close by speaking of the controversial Martha scene. Sure, it is a bit cheesy but I do understand what they were doing and I think it was a great idea and worked although all it needed maybe was one line of dialogue. That was the moment Batman realized how far he had fallen and that he had become the very thing he had dedicated his life to fighting against. If Batman would have said that to Lois and Superman in some verbal way, I think it would have helped.
I really enjoyed this movie despite some of its flaws. All-in-all a good introduction of Batman in the DCEU and I look forward to more movies with these characters!
I am a big fan of the original Independence Day and I saw it four times in the theater and at least 3 times a year ever since. I understand that the sequel was not liked by fans and critics alike. I did enjoy Independence Day Resurgence but my feelings are mixed. I have watched it several times to sort out just how I felt about this movie. First of all, I JUST love alien invasion movies and that on its own will already earn some praise from me.
One point I want to make is that if a person goes into this movie expecting it to be similar or just like the original ID4 then they are bound to be disappointed. If, however, you approach this with an open mind and accept the movie for what it is…a lighthearted science-fiction action and adventure movie…I think there are things in this film to enjoy.
I will review the movie by revealing my pros & cons. Remember, not all pros and cons are of equal value. I will start with the cons first.
1). Too many characters. Its not that I wasn’t able to keep track of them, its just that there were too many to keep track of and that bogged down the story.
2). Not enough tension. I think with the concentration and focus on the many relationships the movie lost a sense of dread and immanent danger annihilation the first movie had. I never had that sense of tension that our characters were in real trouble.
3) Poor pacing. The original was well paced and I think the poor pacing of this movie is due to trying to cram the stories of all the characters within this movie.
Now for the pros.
1). I liked the focus on the original characters and it was good to see them back! I specifically liked the performances of Jeff Goldblum, Judd Hirsch and Brent Spiner as Dr. Okun. Spiner’s character had much more screen time and did provide comic relief and was just a hoot. For those who think his character died watch the original once again. As the alien is using him to speak through, Okun’s fingers are against the glass and are moving showing he is alive. Plus, when we first see Dr. Okun in IDR he is shown moving his fingers before he awakes. That is a nice subtle touch!
2). Great Special Effects. I am unapologetic about my love of eye candy known as special effects. This movie was a delight on the eyes and senses and for me that was very entertaining.
3). The Alien Queen. I am also a lover of Kaiju movies (giant monsters) and the Alien Queen was just great as a giant monster…Loved it!
4). More Science-Fiction. i loved how they showed how much the earth has changed due to the incorporation of alien technology on the human race. Although this could also fit under the special effects reasons why I enjoyed the movie, I single this out because it was done so well and it is what made the movie different from the original (in a good way).
5). Action and adventure. This had a lot of action, more aliens, great battles and ton of destruction porn!
6). Decent story. Despite the character overload the story is pretty good. I did care about the characters, I hated to see Jasmine Hiller’s character die, and it was interesting and entertaining how they all got together to save the Earth once more.
Sure, I don’t exactly enjoy it as I did the original but this movie does have a lot going for me. I am very certain this alien invasion movie will have repeated viewings in my house.
Over the years as much as I try and stay up on movies coming out there are times one will slip past my radar. Sky High was one of those movies. I had not even heard of it before this past winter!
Here is a quick write-up from Wikipedia.
Sky High is a 2005 American superhero comedy film about an airborne school for teenage superheroes. It was directed by Mike Mitchell, and written by Paul Hernandez, Robert Schooley and Mark McCorkle. The starring cast includes Michael Angarano as Will, an incoming freshman at the school, Danielle Panabaker as his best friend and love interest, Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston as his parents, Mary Elizabeth Winstead as a popular senior, Steven Strait as Will’s rival, and Lynda Carter as Principal Powers.
This movie is a mixture of a teen comedy and a superhero movie. Basically, the premise is Will Stronghold is off to his Freshman year of high school and if that wasn’t stressful enough his parents are The Commander and Jetstream the world’s most powerful and best loved superheroes. To continue adding to the young Will’s stress is the fact that he hasn’t developed his superpowers yet so he may be regulated to “sidekick” status.
This movie is funny and fully of charm. Everyone is one their game. Michael Angarano is excellent as Will as he struggles with class status, the girls in his life, his loving but demanding father and finding a way to fit in while he wonders if he will ever get his superpowers. Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston as his parents are particularly great in this movie. Two actors that really steal the show are Dave Foley (no relation) as Jonathan Boy / All-American Boy. He is the Commander’s old sidekick but now works as a Hero Support teacher (aka Sidekick) at Sky High. The other scene stealer is Kevin McDonald as Professor Medulla, the bulbous headed Mad Science teacher. He gives me the most laughs.
The movie is lighthearted fun and never for a moment takes itself seriously. However, despite the tongue firmly implanted this movie has a lot of heart without being too sentimental or schmaltzy. In other words the movie strikes a perfect tone. Will learns what real love looks like and all the nerdy sidekicks, I mean those in hero support, get to find out what it means to be areal hero.
This is a fun, charming and entertaining movie that I cannot recommend enough for those that either like teens comedies, or for those who remember their teens years and its struggles…of, yeah this movie is also for those who love the superhero genre.
To begin this review I will start with a mini right up from Wikipedia:
Jupiter Ascending is a 2015 American-Australian space opera film written, produced, and directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski. Starring Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum, the film is centered on Jupiter Jones (Kunis), an ordinary cleaning woman, and Caine Wise (Tatum), an interplanetary warrior who informs Jones that her destiny extends beyond Earth.
This is going to be a mixed review. I think the little summary is pretty accurate. I will expand on it just a little. Yes, this will have some mini spoilers. Jupiter Jones has become Queen of the Earth and there are two factions, one to protector her and the other that wants to rob her of her new inheritance. That is it. That is the story. However, I have to say the movie is a bit of a mess. Although for me it is an enjoyable mess! The story is basically easy to follow, the main part of it is anyway, its just that there are subplots and plethora of characters I was not able to always figure out what they had to do with the story!
I do not apologize for the fact that I am easy to please as a viewer and I love CGI and special affects and this movie is great in creating a wonderful spectacle of eye candy. This movie does transport you to other worlds that are beautiful to look at and also helps you experience the story. I think that is what is positive about the film. Essentially the movie is a love story with Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum as the central focus and when we are with them we see Mila experience these new worlds and experience them along with her and when Channing Tatum is protecting her we experience these worlds from his perspective and that is when the movie is at its best.
Another positive aspect about the film is actor Eddie Redmayne who plays BaleLana m Abrasax, Emperor of the House of Abrasax. Balem is the eldest of the three Abrasax heirs. Balem controls the wealthiest business empire in the known universe from a gigantic refinery in the Great Red Spot of the planet Jupiter. If you want to know what his business is think Soylent Green, but not as a food product but as a fountain of youth type of beauty product. The emperor feels threatened by Jupiter Jones’ claim to the Earth and attempts to stop her. Actor Eddie Redmayne, who just won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in the movie the History of Everything, really steals the show as the deliciously evil emperor. He would give Tom Hiddleston as Loki a run for the money as an evil character. Although I do like this movie it could be better and in many ways and in my opinion Eddie Redmayne desrves to play an evil character in a better movie. His obvious talent is wasted here.
Jupiter Ascending is an enjoyable film full of great special affects and an interesting yet muddled story that is carried by the strength of its three important leads, Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum and Eddie Redmayne. I do recommend this movie albeit with some cautions.
Seventh Son is a 2014 American epic fantasy film directed by Sergei Bodrov and starring Ben Barnes, Jeff Bridges, Alicia Vikander, and Julianne Moore. It is based on the novel The Spook’s Apprentice (titled The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch in the US) by Joseph Delaney. The story centers on Thomas Ward, a seventh son of a seventh son, and his adventures as the apprentice of the Spook. After having its release date shifted numerous times, the film was released in France on December 17, 2014 and in Canada and the United States on February 6, 2015.
This film was poorly handled. I will not go too deep into that but this was one of those films that was not marketed well and the original affects company went bankrupt and had to be bailed out in order for the special effects to be completed. The movie did not do well with critics and did not do well at the US box office. With a production Budget $95 million it only made $17 million at the box office domestically but it made 110 million world wide. The fact that this movie was released in February, where movies go to die, didn’t help.
Despite all of that negativity I really enjoyed it. The story of how Thomas Ward played by Ben Barnes is the new apprentice of the Spook played by Jeff Bridges and has to recapture Mother Malkin the queen of witches and her minions is a basic staple of fantasy films but I think this one is well executed. If you like monsters and witches, demons and dragons then I think you will like this movie too. This is the type of escapist fun movie that I really enjoy. It has a good story and is well acted with great special effects and there is a lot of subtle dry humor to show it doesn’t take itself too seriously.
One of the delights about this movie is the performances by stellar actors Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore. They both chew up the scenery and they both look like they’re genuinely having fun in this movie and that translates to fine and engaging performances. Bridges play’s the Spook, named Gregory and is a wise cracking old mentor who is trying to train a replacement apprentice while at the same time trying to recapture Mother Milken who has escaped where Gregory last held her. Both Gregory and Malkin have a history and Thomas meets a young gal who also has a secret and a history that ties into the entire story. As we follow our two heroes on their quest we will see and battle some epic creatures along the way.
All-in-all a very enjoyable fantasy film that will be re-watched on nice cool rainy days, such as the one I am experiencing today.
I finally got to see the movie Noah starring Russell Crowe as Noah along with Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman and Anthony Hopkins. A good strong cast! The movie was directed by Darren Aronofsky, written by Aronofsky and Ari Handel, and based loosely on the story of Noah’s Ark. More specifically I believe this was based off a graphic novel that Aronofsky had done.
The story is rather complex and takes liberties with the story as told in the Bible. Since the story is complex and I do not want to spend a long time outlining the plot I will briefly summarize it:
Noah is chosen by The Creator to save the animals as he is going to destroy the Earth because of what mankind has become. To help him in this task are the Watchers, stone creatures that are fallen angels from heaven, who help him build the Ark. Descendants of Cain led by Tubal-Cain arrives with his followers who want to be saved. Tubal-Cain stows away on the Ark. Also on the Ark is Noah’s adopted daughter Ila who becomes impregnated by one of Noah’s sons. This outrages Noah who feels it is his job to complete the Creator’s task to destroy all those who have not been selected to be on the Ark. He vows to kill the child once it is born.
I will leave it at that. I don’t want to spoil the movie. Here is my simple review. Over all I liked it! Good acting, great special effects and a very good story. I like the liberties done with the Biblical epic and this version makes it even more of a fantasy story than I think it already is. I love the look of the Ark itself. In many other times this story has been depicted on screen as this massive ship that always looked very clean and well built. Here in this movie the Ark is massive and looks sturdy but it looks like it was just thrown together and is dirty and messy. It does look like something ancient people would be able to build with the tools and skills at hand…over even stone giants. I also liked the depiction of the animals and how they come to the Ark in groups at different times and how they were sedated for the trip using a special incense.
The human drama driving the story is also well done. Family strife abounds in this movie with Noah coming at odds not only with Tubal-Cain but also his wife and children and adopted daughter Ila. Noah doesn’t come across as a saintly man but a real human being with struggles and faults. He is a man determined to do what he feels the Creator is asking him to do. My only negative comment is that this movie does suffer from the problem that all the recent gritty realistic films are suffering from: namely there is very little joy in this movie! While it is an engaging and well told story with great visuals, the darkness and the heaviness of the film makes it the type of movie that will have limited re-watchable qualities for me. Sure I will re-watch it every now and then once the mood hits me, it just doesn’t have the fun and entertaining value for me. I am sure somewhere in the story they could have had some natural humor to lighten up the mood just a little bit. Even a sense of awe and wonder would have been an improvement.
Overall I did enjoy the movie. I just wish that it wasn’t as dark and serious as it turned out to be. My rating ***½ stars.
There are some remakes that just beg to be compared to their originals and the new RoboCop movie is a good example of this. I read that some fans call the 1987 movie, directed Paul Verhoeven and starring Peter Weller and Kurtwood Smith, as a “Classic.” I guess that is true. While it may not be an overall cinematic classic, it certainly is a classic of the science-fiction genre and of the 1980s.
I have to say I do like the new movie but I do admit that I like the 1987 movie even more. Here are the reasons why. First of all I have to notice the irony. RoboCop 87 was rated R and RoboCop 13 was rated PG-13. Even though the 87 movie had more course language and graphic violence this movie had a sense of over-the-top fun, and despite the drama, it didn’t take itself too seriously. RoboCop 13 doesn’t have the level of graphic violence the original had but it is done in the style of many science-fiction movies of today: that is gritty and realistic. My problem is that approach doesn’t always work. Sometimes by doing a movie with a gritty and realistic style it looses its sense of fun and that isn’t very entertaining for me.
I would call the 2013 movie a re-imagining rather than a remake. There is a distinctive difference in both Robocop robots. In the 1987 movie Murphy is killed and brought back to life and in the 2013 movie he is severely wounded but he retains his memory. Both movies do have a similar theme of searching for one’s identity though. While Murphy 87 is searching to remember who he was, Murphy 2013 struggles to maintain his identity.
In the 2013 movie Michael “Batman” Keaton is very good as the slimy CEO of OmniCorp. However, he just cannot compete with the scene stealing and scene chewing that Kurtwood Smith does in the original. I think that was the first introduction to Smith’s work. I have seen him in various Star Trek roles, That 70s Show and Dead Poets Society. A class act all of the way.
There is one disturbing scene in the new Robocop movie. In the 1987 movie they never really show just how much of Murphy is left and what is cybernetic. In the 2013 movie they show how much is left and it is pretty disturbing. We watch Robocop 2013, played by Joel Kinnaman, as his cybernetic parts are stripped away to reveal that what is left of Alex Murphey is nothing but his head, one hand, lungs and heart. I recoiled in horror along with Murphy at that discovery.
In the end both have very well told stories and good exciting characters. However the heaviness of the remake puts me off a bit and it is just not as fun and entertaining as the 1987 original.
I Frankenstein is another movie I think doesn’t deserve the bad rap that it gets. As I have said before tastes are subjective and it is very evident in this case. One of the complaints about this movie is that it is like a video game come to life. That is actually one of the reasons I like the movie. It is pure mindless fun filled with CGI porn. The movie is based of a graphic novel by Kevin Grevioux. The film stars Aaron Eckhart, Bill Nighy, Yvonne Strahovski, Miranda Otto, Jai Courtney and Kevin Grevioux.
Here is a brief synopsis of the plot:
The story begins in the late 1790s where Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein novel ends (although there are a few flashbacks to the story in the prolog). We find the Frankenstein monster, soon named Adam in the middle of a war between Gargoyles and Demons. Yes, the Gargoyles are the good guys defending humans while the Demons are seeking humanity’s destruction. Because Adam doesn’t have a soul he has an easy time defeating the demons. He is recruited to join the Gargoyles but he declines and departs after being given weapons that allow him to “descend” demons (destroying their bodies and trapping their souls in Hell). As the centuries go by we find Adam in our modern day and in a battle with a demon a human is accidentally killed. Before he can be punished for this death by the Queen of the Gargoyles the demons attack the cathedral where the Gargoyles reside and capture the Queen. Meanwhile demon-prince Naberius who is disguised as billionaire businessman Charles Wessex, and his right-hand man, Dekar, employed scientist Terra Wade to conduct experiments with reanimated corpses as7 he is seeking Victor’s Frankenstein’s journal so he can create an army of undead demons.
That is the basic plot and I won’t give away too many spoilers. Sounds a bit silly doesn’t it? Well, it is and that is the fun of it. There is not a lot of gore and the violence is basically cartoon violence and nothing graphic. Aaron Eckhart does a spectacular job as Adam, the Frankenstein monster and I really enjoyed him in the role. Miranda Otto, From the Lord of the Rings, is also very good as the Queen of the Gargoyles, as is Bill Nighy as the prince of the demons. This is not a horror movie but an enjoyable and fun action adventure story. The CGI is great and the morphing of the Gargoyles into human form is down very smoothly and flawlessly. People also cry about character development in movies and while I often think that is overrated I do think the character development of Adam, Frankenstien’s monster is very well done.
This movie is a B movie with state of the art special effects. The kind of movie you pop in the DVD player on a rainy Saturday night just to have some fun.